Austin Okere

Nume Ekeghe

The Founder of the Computer Warehouse Group, Mr. Austin Okere has expressed optimism that fintech companies are likely to take a more prominent role in banking and the financial services space.

Okere, said this recently at a forum organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Lagos chapter.

According to Okere, “Customers are the most significant force and represented by the outermost sector of the concentric circles.

“As they tend more towards a preference for digital currencies, the fintechs will tend to assume a more prominent role in the new face of banking, and the regulatory regime will inadvertently tend towards the communication commissions under whose purview the Fintechs fall.

“This will introduce a regulatory imbroglio, as future ‘Huge Banks’ may fall outside the regulatory ambit of central banks as seems to be the case with the MPESA.”

He however said this disruption would all depend on customer behaviour, adding that, “If the customers however, maintain a strong appetite for traditional instruments of financial transactions such as notes and coins, cheques etc, then the current status quo will remain.

“The face of banking will thus be more of the same, and the regulatory authority will continue to be central banks.

“Between these two positions may be many variants, depending on the appetite and preferences of customers, and the pace at which they are willing to embrace change.”

Furthermore, he added: “Fintechs are not the only ones challenging traditional banks for turf, retailers are also jumping into the financial services fray. For instance, Amazon has launched Amazon Cash, a way to shop its site without a bank card.

“This product is meant to appeal to the those who get paid in cash, don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards.

“Google is also rolling out a new integration on mobile called Google Tez, which allows audio QR Codes and thus opens the door for more basic phones other than smartphones.

“Users of the Gmail app on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap.”

Continuing, he said: “The changes coming with Blockchain will be as large as the original invention of the internet, and this may not be overstated. Who would have imagined a decade ago that e-commerce, championed by Amazon and Alibaba will be displacing high street retailers, or that ride hailing will be dominated by UBER, a technology platform.

On his part, the Chairman, CIBN, Lagos State Branch, Mr. Kola Abdul said: “Banking is necessary, banks are not. The sentiment has deepened among the population over the last decade with public opinion turning against banks after the last financial crisis of 2008 and technology opening up a range options for financial management.”